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“It is important that patients feel comfortable talking with me and that they know they are not being judged.”
After years in the field of social work, Denise McClellan wanted to do more to help others. So she went back to school for graduate work in psychology. That’s when she realized the benefit of additional nursing training and added a master’s degree in nursing science. “I wanted to be able to offer holistic care, including prescribing medication when needed, along with providing psychotherapy and other supportive services,” says Denise.
Now, as a psychiatric advanced practice nurse, Denise has a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s biological and behavioral needs. “I evaluate and treat patients from the perspective of multiple domains, from their biological and mental health to their social and emotional needs,” she says.
Denise works with adult patients at Vanguard and typically treats behavioral health issues such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, grief and loss, substance abuse challenges, and sleep disturbances. From her previous experience working with members of the military, Denise has experience treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and individuals who struggle with psychiatric symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury. With her social work background, she provides counseling on a variety of issues, from stress management and coping with change and loss to relationship challenges, family dynamics, and personal and professional transformation.
Denise encourages patients to be active participants in their care, adding, “I feel it is important for patients to take ownership of their treatment and understand the goals and reasons behind it.”
Denise chose to work at Vanguard because of its primary care focus on behavioral health. “I was intrigued with addressing behavioral health in the primary care setting,” she says. “What I’ve found is that by offering behavioral health as part of family medicine, treatment becomes more acceptable, convenient, and accessible, and for most patients it’s also more affordable than in a private psychiatric practice setting.”
When she’s not working, Denise enjoys hiking, traveling, art, reading, and spending time with family and friends.